Phyllis McGinley

Phyllis
McGinley
1905
1978

American Essayist, Writer of Light Verse and Books for Children

Author Quotes

Getting along with men isn't what's truly important. The vital knowledge is how to get along with a man, one man.

Sometimes I have a notion that what might improve the situation is to have women take over the occupations of government and trade and to give men their freedom. Let them do what they are best at. While we scrawl interoffice memos and direct national or extra-national affairs, men could spend all their time inventing wheels, peering at stars, composing poems, carving statues, exploring continents -- discovering, reforming, or crying out in a sacramental wilderness. Efficiency would probably increase, and no one would have to worry so much about the Gaza Strip or an election.

Gossip is the tool of the poet, the shoptalk of the scientist and the consolation of the housewife, wit, tycoon and intellectual. It begins in the nursery and ends when speech is past.

The East is a montage. It is old and it is young, very green in summer, very white in winter, gregarious, withdrawn and at once both sophisticated and provincial.

Gossip isn't scandal and it's not merely malicious. It's chatter about the human race by lovers of the same. Gossip is the tool of the poet, the shop-talk of the scientist, and the consolation of the housewife, wit, tycoon and intellectual. It begins in the nursery and ends when speech is past.

The East is the hearthside of America. Like any home, therefore, it has the defects of its virtues. Because it is a long-lived-in house, it bursts its seams, is inconvenient, needs constant refurbishing. And some of the family resources have been spent. To attain the privacy that grown-up people find so desirable, Easterners live a harder life than people elsewhere. Today it is we and not the frontiersman who must be rugged to survive.

In Australia, not reading poetry is the national pastime.

The Enemy, who wears her mother's usual face and confidential tone, has access; doubtless stares into her writing case and listens on the phone.

It's this no-nonsense side of women that is pleasant to deal with. They are the real sportsmen.

The system -- the American one, at least -- is a vast and noble experiment. It has been polestar and exemplar for other nations. But from kindergarten until she graduates from college the girl is treated in it exactly like her brothers. She studies the same subjects, becomes proficient at the same sports. Oh, it is a magnificent lore she learns, education for the mind beyond anything Jane Austen or Saint Theresa or even Mrs. Pankhurst ever dreamed. It is truly Utopian. But Utopia was never meant to exist on this disheveled planet.

Kindness is a virtue neither modern nor urban. One almost unlearns it in a city. Towns have their own beatitude; they are not unfriendly; they offer a vast and solacing anonymity or an equally vast and solacing gregariousness. But one needs a neighbor on whom to practice compassion.

The thing to remember about fathers is, they're men. A girl has to keep it in mind: They are dragon-seekers, bent on improbable rescues. Scratch any father, you find someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors, believing change is a threat ? like your first shoes with heels on, like your first bicycle it took such months to get.

Marriage was all a woman's idea and for man's acceptance of the pretty yoke, it becomes us to be grateful.

The trouble with gardening is that it does not remain an avocation. It becomes an obsession.

Not reading poetry amounts to a national pastime here.

The wonderful thing about saints is that they were human. They lost their tempers, got hungry, scolded God, were egotistical or impatient in their turns, made mistakes and regretted them. Still they went on doggedly blundering toward heaven.

Of course we women gossip on occasion. But our appetite for it is not as avid as a mans. It is in the boys gyms, the college fraternity houses, the club locker rooms, the paneled offices of business that gossip reaches its luxuriant flower.

This is the gist of what I know: Give advice and buy a foe.

Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing, peace is the measure.

To be a housewife is... a difficult, a wrenching, sometimes an ungrateful job if it is looked on only as a job. Regarded as a profession, it is the noblest as it is the most ancient of the catalogue. Let none persuade us differently or the world is lost indeed.

Oh, high is the price of parenthood, and daughters may cost you double. You dare not forget, as you thought you could, that youth is a plague and a trouble.

When blithe to argument i come, though armed with facts, and merry, may providence protect me from the fool as adversary, whose mind to him a kingdom is where reason lacks dominion, who calls conviction prejudice and prejudice opinion.

Our bodies are shaped to bear children, and our lives are a working out of the processes of creation. All our ambitions and intelligence are beside that great elemental point.

When I was a fireman I was in a lot of burning buildings. It was a great job, the only job I ever had that compares with the thrill of acting. Before going into a fire, there's the same surge of adrenaline you get just before the camera rolls.

Deluded people that we are, we do not realize how mediocre it all seems. We will eat our undistinguished meal, probably without even a cocktail to enliven it. We will drink our coffee at the table, not carry it into the living room. If a husband changes for dinner here it is into old trousers and more comfortable shoes. The children will then go through the childhood routine ? complain about their homework, grumble about going to bed, and finally accomplish both ordeals. Perhaps later the Gerard Joneses will drop in. We will talk a great deal of unimportant chatter and compare notes on food prices; will discuss the headlines and disagree. We will all have one highball and the Joneses will leave early. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow the pattern will be repeated. This is Suburbia. But I think that someday people will look back on our Spruce Manor way of life with nostalgia and respect. In a world of terrible extremes it will stand out as the important medium. Suburbia, of thee I sing!

Author Picture
First Name
Phyllis
Last Name
McGinley
Birth Date
1905
Death Date
1978
Bio

American Essayist, Writer of Light Verse and Books for Children